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HCDE PhD alumnus Kai Lukoff receives SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award

Leah Pistorius
February 14, 2023

Dr. Kai Lukoff, a 2022 alumnus from the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering's PhD program, has received the ACM SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2023. 

Kai Lukoff
Kai Lukoff

This prestigious award is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) to recognize exceptional research from recently graduated PhD students in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Lukoff's research aims to give people greater control over the time they spend with digital technology. His dissertation, Designing to Support Sense of Agency for Time Spent on Digital Interfaces, focuses on addressing frustrations with technology by studying interfaces that can promote a greater sense of user agency. Through a study of the YouTube app and the development of a new app, SwitchTube, Lukoff demonstrates designs that can promote such agency.

"Kai’s research is a ground-breaking and vital contribution to the SIGCHI community of researchers and practitioners who work hard so that the applications, services, and devices they create benefit individuals and society, while reducing harms that may occur through uses that do not benefit them," wrote the SIGCHI Awards Committee in a statement. "Kai’s dissertation has provoked, and will continue to provoke, conversations that have helped the HCI, social computing, and ubicomp fields gain a better understanding of what, exactly, we mean by digital wellbeing and how to achieve it."

Dr. Lukoff is now an Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, where he directs the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. As a PhD student in HCDE, he was co-advised by HCDE Associate Professor Sean Munson and UW Information School Associate Professor Alexis Hiniker. Lukoff shared, "My dissertation was the product of six years of wonderful collaborations. My co-advisors Sean and Alexis tirelessly guided, edited, and debugged my work and provided invaluable tangible and emotional support."

He continued, "I am also grateful for the twenty-seven undergraduate and master's students from across HCDE, the iSchool, and CSE who joined me in directed research groups and brought their skills, insights, and energy to the research. These collaborations formed the foundation of my dissertation and exemplify the dynamism of the interdisciplinary DUB (Design Use Build) community at the University of Washington."